a joint communique from somewhere in Meanland

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On Sunday Meanjin and Overland will share a launch of their December issues, and a Christmas party (though only one of us will get to keep the emu egg cup).

Our collaboration will continue throughout 2010 with a project called ‘Reading in an Age of Change’ (or Meanland). This joint project aims to create a constructive dialogue on how we, and future generations, will read. It will explore the challenges and opportunities facing literary culture in the twenty-first century—from digital publishing to copyright, from globalisation to the changing nature of reading. We will explore the new literary realities facing readers, writers and publishers, and reflect on and intervene into the changing nature of reading, writing and publishing—circumstances that, naturally, also implicate both Meanjin and Overland.

Collectively, Meanjin and Overland have a history of contributing to public debates. We are different but complementary—and we both want to drive, rather than react to, debate in this highly fluid new media landscape. By engaging in a year-long dialogue across a range of platforms—in print, online and through public events—the project will itself be a practical demonstration of the issues being explored and the ongoing relevance of literary journals. Throughout 2010, four articles will be published in each journal, one in each issue. Meanjin‘s first article, to be published in March, will be by McKenzie Wark: ‘Copyright, Copyleft, Copygift ‘. Overland will run an article by Margaret Simons on what reading will look like in fifteen years. We’ll produce the Meanland website: a unifying platform that will pull this dialogue together, the website will include all articles, podcasts and possibly video, thus creating a free, virtual resource for present and future readers, writers and publishers. Our readers will know that both journals have been doing some lively blogging on this subject.

We’ll be holding a public events program in partnership with The Wheeler Centre , which will kick off on 25 February and include panelists Sherman Young, Peter Craven, Margaret Simons and Marieke Hardy. We also hope to be involved in some collaborative work with the Centre for the Future of the Book and with the Sydney Writers Festival. Mooted, but unconfirmed guests over the year include Cory Doctorow. It’s still a work in progress, but we’re pretty excited about it. We’ll keep you posted on the details as they evolve.

Jeff Sparrow

Jeff Sparrow is a Walkley Award-winning writer, broadcaster and former editor of Overland.

More by Jeff Sparrow ›

Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places.

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  1. this is such a good way of talking about literature, from the perspective of readers. i know that my reading habits, and even my methods, have been altered by the net. eg. i could be reading 3 or 4 articles or feeds at once, and flit between the windows without even feeling very conscious of it. i sometimes get frustrated with print because i can’t click on links or read multiple works as easily, or because it sometimes seems formal or forced by comparison. maybe less dynamic?

    but in the same way, i much more often find writing on the internet too raw or disjointed or unfocused. even though i know it’s ‘the future’, i have a lot of trouble with twitter for this reason.

    i’m sure that proper internet-heads would find my browsing habits very old-fashioned, in that i read the same sites every day, they are mostly news and ‘culture’, i go to the physical site rather than having a reader, and i don’t tweet.

    and also, for some reason, i can read long works of non-fiction without becoming restless, but i hate to read fiction online! i always want a physical book to read if it’s a story. how strange!

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